kapa kulture

This blog is dedicated to Hawaiian kapa and matters related to Hawai'i nei…kuku kapa e!

Archive for the tag “Hawaiian History”

Sovereignty inspired at Kahoʻolawe

It is common knowledge that the Hawaiian Monarchy was illegally overthrown with the help of the United States military in 1893. Hawaiʻi was annexed as a territory to the United States illegally in 1898. The Hawaiian Islands became the 50th state in 1959.

“…And in our effort to appear American, we sought to bury that which was Hawaiian. We reorganized our Hawaiian-ness to conform with tourism’s and Hollywood’s pictures of Hawaiians” (p 95).

After decades of discrimination and dispossession, a movement coined the Hawaiian Renaissance began in the 1970’s. It was a turning point and a source of empowerment for Hawaiians.

“On the fourth of January, 1976, Hawaiian resistance broke through the surface. On that day, George Jarret Helm, Jr., Noa Emmett Aluli, Walter Ritte, Jr., and six other young Hawaiians illegally landed on the island of Kahoʻolawe to protest military use of Hawaiian land [for bombing practice and military exercises]” (p. 95).

“If the Dick and Jane books not going to make you proud of who you are, Kahoʻolawe is going to.” ~George Jarret Helm, Jr.

“George Helm and the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana sought their vision for the future in the wisdom of the past. The struggle for Kahoʻolawe was as cultural as it was political. The leaders of the movement went to kūpuna and kāhuna for guidance that comes from the Hawaiian past and for advice to help restore what is Hawaiian for the present and the future” (p. 97).

“One by one, and then by twos and threes and fours, people and groups rallied to the cause. Save Mākua, Save Sand Island, Save Waimānalo, Save Anahola, Save Kaʻū, Save Wao Kele O Puna, Save Honokahua, Save Hālawa Valley, Save Sunset Beach, Save Miloliʻi: Life of the Land, Pele Defense Fund, Ka ʻOhana o Ka Lae, Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian Nation. Hawaiian voices rose in protest, protest against wrongs done in the past, against abuse in the present, against the loss of Hawaiʻi in the future” (p 99).

In 1992, the United States returned Kahoʻolawe to the people of Hawaiʻi…

Excerpts from “Then There Were None” by Martha H. Noyes (pp.95-97, 2003)

Operation Sailor Hat on Kahoʻolawe, 1965

Operation Sailor Hat on Kahoʻolawe, 1965

Map of Hawaiʻi showing Kahoʻolawe

Map of Hawaiʻi showing Kahoʻolawe

Island of Kahoʻolawe

Island of Kahoʻolawe

George Helm

Kaho’olawe Aloha ʻĀina

Population Decline of Native Hawaiians

The Native Hawaiian population decrease rose at an alarming rate since the first notable contact with Westerners in 1778. Disease was a major factor in this decline. Smallpox, cholera, and even the flu were introduced, and then decimated the Hawaiian people in record numbers. Venereal disease such as gonorrhea also had an additionally insidious effect of sterilizing its victims!

The perfection of the marine chronometer aided European cartographers in map making and was a primary reason for increased foreign invasion in the Hawaiian Islands. When the Hawaiian Islands were charted on maps beginning in the 1700’s, sailors, merchants, and missionaries came in droves until devastating consequences were reflected in cultural losses, loss of lands, way of life, and most importantly, decreasing numbers of the Hawaiian people.

Foreigners were instrumental in exploiting the natural resources in the region. Discovery that large profits could be made from the whaling industry, the sandalwood trade, and the subsequent development of sugar plantations brought famine, cultural disruption, and intermarriage to Hawaiian families. Combined with diseases, these factors had a fatal effect on the population of Native Hawaiian people.

In 2003, only 5000 individuals identified themselves as Native Hawaiian. This figure does not include races that identify themselves as part-Hawaiian, which is an independent category. In 2010, the United States Census combined all races from the Pacific Island region into one category and counted 540,013 individuals. This category includes people from the Philippines, Guam, Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, and other island nations.

Population Decline of Native Hawaiians

Population Decline of Native Hawaiians

Kapa Revival Project

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Hawaiian Word of the Day: lau

lau: 1. Leaf, frond, leaflet, greens; to leaf out. Lau is sometimes contracted to lā-, as lā’ī, lāʻie, lāʻō. ho’olau. to grow leaves; to leaf out. 2. Dragnet, seine, so called because formerly made of ti leaves (lau) tied to a rope. Hukilau, lauahi, lauʻapoʻapo, laukō. ho’olau. (a) To use a lau. (b) A bundle of grass or ferns set in water to attract shrimps or ʻoʻopu fish; a net was placed under this bundle, and the fish shaken into it. (Proto-Polynesian rau.) 3. Sheet; surface; blade, as of grass. 4. To be much, many; very many, numerous; four-hundred. Lau ā lau nā hōkū o ka lani, hundreds and hundreds of stars in the heaven. Lau lena ka pua o ka māmane, the māmane is yellow with blossoms. ho’olau. To make numerous; to assemble, as of numerous persons or animals; numerous. 5. Pattern, as for quilts; design; print of a cloth. Pāhoehoe lau, brocaded satin. 6. Thatched mountain hut, as used by farmers, canoe-makers, bird catchers. 7. Tip, as of the tongue; top (probably related to wēlau and ʻēlau, tip). Lau make, death-dealing tip, as of a weapon. Moe…i ka lau o ka lihilhi, to doze; lit., sleep by the tip of the eyelash. 8. Sweet-potato slip or vine.


Hawaiian Word of the Day: maopopo

maopopo: To understand, recognize, realize; clear; plainly, clearly; understanding. Ua maopopo iā’oe? Do you understand? Ua maopopo ia’u kou mana’o, I understand your idea. Ha’i maopopo, to tell clearly. Maopopo ka ‘ikena, clearly seen or known. Maopopo ‘ole, unintelligible, unaware, unaccountable. Maopopo loa, to understand clearly, definite, certain. Maopopo maika’i, maopopo le’a, obvious, evident, clearly understood.
ho’omaopopo. To understand, make plain or clear, tell clearly, cause to understand, pay attention in order to understand; to certify, inform, remember, recollect, recall, think about, remind, believe in, realize, ascertain, take care of, recognize, discover. (Depending on context, many translations are possible; for substitution of maopopo for ho’omaopopo) Ho’omaopopo ‘ē, to understand ahead, to anticipate; inkling. Ho’omaopopo ‘ole ‘ia, misunderstood, unintelligible, uncared for, unclear. E ho’omaopopo aku ‘oe, i ka hola ‘ehia kākou e hele ai, find out what hour we are going. E ho’omaopopo aku ‘oe e hele mai i kēla ‘apōpō, remind [him] to come tomorrow. E ho’omapopo mai ‘oe i kēia mea e a’o ‘ia aku nei, pay attention and comprehend these things being taught you. (From Hawaiian Dictionary, Pukui & Elbert, p 241, 1971).

e ala e

e ala e

Hawaiian Word of the Day: wiwo’ole

wiwo’ole: Fearless, brave, bold, courageous, dauntless, intrepid. Hana wiwo’ole, bold or brave deed, adventure. Mea wiwo’ole, intrepid person, adventurer.


Hawaiian Word of the Day: kāhili

kāhili: 1. Feather standard, symbolic of royalty; segment of a rainbow standing like a shaft (also a sign of royalty); to brush, sweep, switch (to spray, as in kāhilihili: Kāhilihili ke kai a ka he’e nalu, spraying sea of surf-rider).

Kāhili chants (As in ‘ou’ou, to describe the pinnacle or high peak): I ka lālā wēkiu ka pua o Lono, i ka ‘ou’ou o nā lani nui, in the topmost branch the flowers of Lono, among the highest of the high chiefs.

2. Pa’a kāhili, kāhili bearer. Kū kāhili, one standing by a kāhili or carrying it. Kāhili pulu, to clear away mulch. Haku ‘ia na’e ho’i ka hulu o ka moa i kāhili i mua o nā ali’i; kāhili ‘ia na’e ho’i kō kua, chicken feathers indeed are woven into a standard for the presence of the chiefs; your back is brushed by the kāhili.

ho’okāhili. To brush or fan gently. 2. The crape myrtle (Lagerstroemea indica), an ornamental shrub from China, with small oval leaves and panicles of pink, white, or purple crape flowers. 3. A small tree (Grevillea banksii) from Australia, related to the silky oak, ‘oka kilika, but the leaves with fewer subdivisions and the flowers red or cream-white. This is a later application of kāhili to a plant. Flowers not used for leis on head or around neck because of irritating hairs, but made into leis for hats by sewing alternated rows of flower clusters and own leaves on pandanus band. 4. Kāhili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), from the Himalaya region; much like the white ginger but with a more open flower head, the flowers with narrow yellow segments and one bright red stamen apiece. Also ‘awapuhi kāhili. 5. A seaweed, probably Turbinaria ornata.

kahili against flag quilt

kahili ginger

kahili bearer

restored kahili returned to bishop museum

Video of kapa implements and processes from start to finish in a nutshell

old kapa cook eraKa Hana Kapa Video

Hawaiian Word of the Day: ‘onipa’a

‘onipa’a: Fixed, immovable, motionless, steadfast, established, firm, resolute, determined (this was the motto of Ka-mehameha V and of Lili’u-o-ka-lani. Lit., fixed movement). hō’onipa’a. To fix, establish firmly. E hō’onipa’a loa wau iā ‘oukou (Bible: Jer. 42:10), I will plant you securely (Pukui & Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary, 1971).


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